The (not far) Away Day (part 3)

by Paul Carder on May 9, 2017

by @paulcarder (with contributions from @therealsulim & others!)

Scroll down for the story so far. Three managers met at the bar of a corporate training centre. Frankie (from HR), Sam (from FM – Facilities Management), and Jules (from CRE – Corporate Real Estate). There has been some discussion about a potential plot unfolding. Mostly because the HR Director has called this Away Day, “so we actually talk to each other, and share information and experiences”. 

Back at the bar….

Frankie has left, for dinner with the HR Director. Jules has gone to catch up on emails. Sam is left thinking. Is this the opportunity for FM to get out from under CRE? And more importantly, the cost-reduction focus of Finance? The new HQ project could be an opportunity to prove that FM is not a ‘bolt-on’ to CRE. Sam recalls some of the experiences gleaned in setting up hotels, and how much of it can be transferred to the new HQ facility.

As Sam considers the move (in more ways than one), Charlie, the IT Strategy guru, crashes through the doors from the gym. “Hey Sam, how’s it going? You’re looking a bit serious there.” Sam looks up with a smile. Charlie is an atypical IT colleague. Being extrovert in IT tends to mean looking down at someone else’s shoes. But that’s not Charlie.

“You may look serious in a moment, when I tell you what CRE are up to with the new HQ” chuckles Sam, as he finishes his bottle of Eurofizz. “Two more beers please, barman …Charlie has worked up a thirst”.

“Thanks. So what’s up?” asks Charlie, perching on a stool next to Sam at the bar. “Don’t tell me… we are moving in twelve months? …I’ll need to tell the Telecomms this evening to be inside their SLA delivery time!” Sam smiles, knowingly. You can control any part of the move project, providing you work around the TelCo.

“No, I’m just kidding with you Charlie” says Sam, holding back on relaying what Jules has just revealed. Best to let Charlie find out when it comes through on email. As it will, no doubt. Sam continues, “I’m actually thinking about the potential role HR sees itself taking, and how we fit into that. Assuming that we’ll find out tomorrow?”

I’ve already had a pre-meeting” says Charlie, “with my boss and the HR Director. They have been in a huddle quite a bit recently. The new CEO is very keen to give staff every tool they need to perform at their best achievable level. They have even been bandying about sports analogies. The CEO wants people fit and well, in body and mind…. probably why she called me in, right?”

Sam grinned, “Fit in body, Charlie …not sure about your mind! …not sure I even want to go there!”

“Funny…but, no, seriously. HR is only in the driving seat tomorrow because the CEO is in Paris with Macron. She is friends with his wife, Brigitte, so I was told. The HR Director is a safe pair of hands”, Charlie pauses “not my words…but this is going to be an organizational transformation. Selling it to staff in the right way is going to be critical”.

Sam’s day just got even better. This was now looking like a real opportunity for FM to play a significant role in the firm’s performance, …even it’s reputation in the sector. It was starting to make sense now. This was not going to be an HR Away Day with invitees. This was looking more like the start of a new company culture, led from the top.

Charlie continued, “We have been briefed to ‘think out of the box’ on this one. Really push the envelope”. Sam was getting full MBA delivery mode here. “Performance and agility are the top priority. Procurement will be involved, of course, but not in the usual penny-pinching way. We don’t have a blank cheque here, but the CEO wants a ‘wow factor’ to attract the smartest kids coming out of Uni. We have to give them better ‘kit & comms’ than they have in their pocket. And free them up to use it.” Charlie was on a roll now, smiling “our IT Operations guys are going to have to live with a lot of flexibility and user customization. Set the people free!”

Sam chipped in, “Great – fewer desks, more sofas!”, half-joking. That had not been the culture of the firm.

“Absolutely!” exclaimed Charlie, “fewer desks, no desk phones, no PCs, …and as wireless as we can get it …we’ll have a bun-fight over printers, but the fewer the better”.

Sam paused, deliberately, “It’s gonna look more like a hotel”. That was a plant, and well timed.

Charlie thought for a few seconds, and replied, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. I hadn’t quite thought of it like that.”

Sam and Charlie were going to get along on this project. Now just to take the others with them….the tough part.

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